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Islamabad: Pakistan has launched a new upgraded online visa system that is more secure and user-friendly and compatible with all kinds of devices, including mobile and tablet.

The upgraded Pakistan online visa system was launched by Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed. He said the development would make the visa application procedure more efficient, assisting visitors to apply conveniently.

The interior minister also said the system would pave the way for tourism and business opportunities. The online application would help “promote tourism in Pakistan” and in building a friendly image of the country. The ease of access to Pakistan would also help spur economic activity in the country.

Pakistan’s entire visa application process is now online and more than 600,000 visa applications have been received from 180 countries during the last few months, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) chairman Tariq Malik hoped the recent upgrades to the online visa system would help reduce the application filing time by half. He said that NADRA’s mission is to make public services accessible for all.

International travel has witnessed a big surge and the visa approval rate has reached 94 per cent, he shared. Moreover, new categories of medical tourism, CPEC visa, pilgrim visa, mountaineering visa have also been incorporated in the new online visa system. The business visa policy has also been revamped allowing businessmen to get visas within 24 hours.

Pakistan announced to process all visa applications through an online visa portal only from February 2021, phasing out the exhausting manual visa system. The e-visa facility is part of the government’s digital transformation efforts to simplify visa facilities and to encourage tourism and business travel to Pakistan.

Pakistan is also set to issue electronic passports and a German company has been awarded the contract to facilitate the system. The e-passport adds a special layer of security to the traditional travel document and reduces the risk of fraud.